Sunspirit Nails Abnoba Near The Winning Post
Mr Prem Tharani & Trainer Irfan Ghatala leading Sunspirit (R Hughes Up), winner of The Jog Cup
A brilliant piece of riding by Richard Hughes enabled Irfan Ghatala's Sunspirit (Diffident-Mary Bankes) to score a thrilling victory in The Jog Cup at Bangalore on Friday. The ace rider displayed a cool temperament while bringing this horse from last to first in the day's feature. The class II handicap dominated a small card framed for the day's action. With an unknown fever affecting a few stables at Bangalore in recent times, the fields were small and the number of races only six.
Three-year-olds Sunspirit, Abnoba, Sweet Caroline and Indian Bolt stood out in a field of nine acceptors. Abnoba was attempting to continue her winning streak, and the stable had requisitioned the services of Suraj Narredu. The only thing against her was a step-up in distance, as she was travelling beyond six furlongs for the first time in her career. On the other hand, Sunspirit was well-suited over seven furlongs and the presence of Richard Hughes in the saddle was an added advantage. He was supported strongly in the betting rings, and started as a clear favourite to land the spoils. Sweet Caroline was known to be blessed with tremendous speed, while Indian Bolt had only to regain his best known form to win this race.
The race was run at a fair pace with Portatone showing the way to Sweet Caroline and Abnoba. It was unusual to see Richard's posture in his saddle. He held Sunspirit on a tight leash and the pair of them was content to grace the rear. After Sweet Caroline and Abnoba went past the leader and began a duel in the final furlong, it was time for the favourite to make his move. Just as Abnoba put her head down to gain a momentary advantage, Sunspirit arrived on the scene.
He displayed superb acceleration, came with raking strides and asserted his superiority. He got up in the last few strides to win near the winning post. Sunspirit was always considered to be one of the top horses in Irfan's stable. A couple of niggling problems as a three-year-old had curtailed his progress. Now that he has rediscovered his galloping shoes, it may not be long before he wins in the highest class. Friday's proceedings were dominated by the progeny of Burden Of Proof, who cleared half the day's card.
By winning the first three of a total of six races framed for the afternoon, they cornered glory for The Kunigal Stud Farm. Prithviraj's Indravati (Burden Of Proof-Scarlet Empress) was backed at all odds to start as a short-priced favourite in the day's opener. This three-year-old had been kept under wraps in her previous start, and his trainer decided to run him in the lowest class today. Despite a tender ride from the jockey, Indravati was noticed to be putting in some good work in the closing stages of the earlier race. The moment punters noticed the "right" money coming onto him, they joined the bandwagon.
They were soon rewarded for their efforts, as Indravati came with a smooth acceleration and sailed past a bunch of helpless opponents. Jagadeesh rode a confident race by choosing to ride him from the back. He allowed Indravati to canter along in mid-division before showing him daylight. The winner went past Burden On Me with a minimum of effort, and looks capable of repeating on promotion. Darius Byramji's Gazaki (Burden Of Proof-Acer) was a half-money favourite in the next event. The bay filly had run a couple of brilliant races, and had been a trifle unfortunate to lose to Cherelle in her last start. Gazaki had taken off sluggishly, and had been unable to make up the lost ground on that day. There were no such problems on Friday, as Gazaki bounded out of the gates and made most of the running. Sylvester Desouza had an armchair ride to victory astride this three-year-old, and she was able to win by a widening margin from a late-finishing Scarlet Knight. Second-in-demand Athabasca Star ran a poor race to end a tame fourth.
The Kunigal-bred Silken Touch (Burden Of Proof-Track Charm) ran remarkably for a first-timer. She put it across her better fancied opponents in The AP Kothavala Memorial Cup, and did it in style. Irfan Ghatala's Hillstone was a marginal favourite ahead of Ben Ten, but the two of them offered little resistance when the winner came charging from the back. Bavaria led into the straight, but was soon passed by Ben Ten. At almost the same juncture, Richard Hughes tried his best to rouse Hillstone into some sort of a rhythm, but the chestnut colt refused to budge. Silken Touch made her move around the bend, and began to improve her position. Imran Chisty brought her alongside Ben Ten, and gave her a couple of cracks. She hung out for a few strides before regaining her balance.
The moment she straightened her head, the race was over. Silken Touch flew in the final stages to win by over three lengths from Ben Ten, early leader Bavaria and an exhausted Hillstone. The winner displayed a lot of class and confirmed the fine impression that she had made during her morning trials. The result of the fifth race saw apprentice boys dominating the finish. Sabari, Enduring Speed and Good Gift were ridden by four kilo claimers, and the three of them were able to figure at the top of the result boards. Trainer Puttanna had prepared Sabari (Juniper-Sabie) with a lot of care and the stable was extremely confident of her chances. The same was reflected in the betting rings, and the odds against the five-year-old came tumbling down from 5/1 to 2/1. Her fans were a bit nervous near the bend, as Sabari was caught in some sort of a traffic jam. Pradeep brought her off the rails and pulled her towards the outer portion of the track.
Sabari improved steadily thereafter, and ran away from a bunch of tired runners. After the withdrawal of ante-post favourite Youre Stunning, Sabari was definitely the best runner in this group of eleven starters. The day ended with both Suleiman Attaolahi and Sylvester Desouza completing their personal doubles for the afternoon through the medium of Delacroix (Glory Of Dancer-Makeover). Irfan Ghatala's Sunstone was a strongly fancied favourite in this race. For the second successive time, a lot of money went down with him. In the hands of an apprentice boy earlier this season, Sunstone had lost as an on-money favourite in the lower class. Richard Hughes allowed Sunstone to race in close proximity of Delacroix for the first half of the trip, but it became an unequal contest thereafter. All Desouza had to do with Delacroix was to shake him up. The free-striding winner got stronger and stronger in the final furlong to ultimately win by an impressive margin of five lengths. Sunstone kept a fast-finishing Yamas at bay, and managed to retain the second spot for himself. Delacroix has been improving with each run, and Attaolahi has put him into fine shape. Another success for him this season looks like a distinct possibility.